U14As take a win against unbeaten Chobham
The U14As ground out a tough win in difficult conditions against old friends Chobham
Today the U14s welcomed our old friends from Chobham to Fortress Farnham for a friendly match. Chobham are now, as they have always been, fiercely competitive proponents of this egg chasing game of ours. The fact that this was to be a "friendly" match wasn't going to change the attitude of both sides; both Farnham and Chobham boys wanted a win and neither planned to make it easy for the other.
The last occasion these teams met was in November in the U14 Round Robin. That game saw Chobham win 14-7 to become round robin group winners and added to what was by now a season and a half unbeaten winning streak.
After a week's heavy rain, the first pitch at Farnham was claggy in the extreme and the boys had a hard job adjusting to the playing conditions. From the kick off, with heavy boots and a mud caked ball, running rugby wasn't going to be the order of the day and it was clear that the forwards of both sides were going to have to put in an especially big shift.
After about 15 minutes of going through the phases and stuffing the ball up the jumper, eventually Captain Louis Thomas at full back executed a deft clearance kick into space but showing great footballing skill the Chobham 15 fly kicked it back towards the Farnham try line and with a super chase soon found himself touching down to score. It might have been one of the very few times they had found themselves inside the Farnham 22 but a score was a score and a missed conversion left Chobham 5-0 to the good.
The Farnham boys were galvanised into action once more and from the restart were pushing hard but despite spending most of the remainder of the half in the Chobham end of the pitch, they just couldn't get to the try line.
At half time, the boys analysed what was working and what wasn't. Just before the game began, the coaches had encouraged them to practice a rolling maul and so when the second half started, this became a key platform. A Farnham line out throw to Chris Ratcliffe was turned into a rolling maul which gained the boys 5-10 metres before the ball was recycled into a second phase and a second rolling maul. This tactic was used to great effect when a 30m run into the Chob 22 from speedster Aston Ulisse saw the boys rolling their way to the Chobham posts and with great aplomb Tom Garner executed a pick and go to dive over the line. This score was deftly converted by Finlay Anderson and suddenly Farnham was 7-5 in the lead.
With about 10 minutes to play, the opposition boys were rattled and the sound of fraying tempers could be heard from their home ground. With their unbeaten record under threat, the Chobham boys started to make more and more errors whilst the Farnham boys bound together and played with astonishing teamwork and a super work ethic. To a man, our boys played with heart and soul and soon enough the final whistle blew to herald a momentous victory.
What a game!
In the post match debrief, Sam and Dominic congratulated the boys on a second super performance in two weeks. Absolutely everyone had put in a massive shift. Special mentions go to Aston Ulisse, Adam Ogilvie, Captain Louis Thomas and to Tom Garner who all looked dangerous with some arcing runs and fearless tackles.
Podium places were deserved by everyone present but points were awarded as follows:
3 - Adam Ogilvie for some great searching runs
2 - Olly KP and Jake Epps who shared hooking and line out throwing duties looking just as good as Messrs Hartley and George had done against France yesterday
1 - James Robinson who had stepped in at 8 for the first time for the injured Max C-H and made an enormous contribution with a cool head to what was at times a heated game.
Who needs the 6 Nations when there is home grown talent to watch like this!
Special congrats also to Josh Smith whose Post Match white shirt was impressively ironed and his club tie expertly tied. What a well turned out chap!